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Happy Friendsgiving, Study Says 26% of Americans Fail to Wash Hands While Cooking

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Because I'm not a masochist, I opt out of the whole cooking portion of Thanksgiving. I'd burn the mashed potatoes anyways, OK? And while you might think my role (draining mom's wine supply and gossiping about the cousins) is easy, you're wrong. 

I have to worry about my unsanitary relatives manhandling the turkey and maybe ending up with a food-borne illness. No, this isn't an illogical fear. Earlier this week, a report from the Water Quality and Health Council found that 26% of people surveyed admitted to not washing their hands during food prep (only washing their hands before and after cooking). That's like pulling up a chair and inviting E. coli to the dinner table. 

As if that weren't enough, your relatives are probably rinsing the raw turkey wrong, too. As many as 62% of Americans are doing so in the sink, where experts say "splatter germs" can leap three feet -- probably hitting me in the face while I down the last glass of cabernet. Meanwhile, 55% are unaware the refrigerator's bottom shelf is where to store your turkey. 

"When a raw turkey is placed on a higher shelf, bacteria-laden juices can drip onto food stored lower down," according to the report. Cool. 

You also need to bear in mind how you're sanitizing your dirty kitchen surfaces. Soap and water just won't do it. Instead, public health experts advise something stronger as to avoid cross-contamination. 

"Most recipes are written in a way that assumes that home cooks know how to safely handle raw products, including produce, poultry, fish, and meat -- but research has proven that many aren’t savvy about food safety," President Emeritus of the National Consumers League and Vice Chair of the Water Quality & Healthy Council, Linda F. Golodner, said in a statement. 

I'm not saying we should skip grandma's annual feast, but I'm also not not saying that either. I can make a reservation? 

h/tEater


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 Megan Schaltegger is a staff writer at Thrillist. Follow her @MegSchaltegger.